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Nanette Lepore Headshot

Getting Ready for the Runway

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Ok, so I'm not an intellectual. Sadly, the closest I get to a newspaper is what my husband 
(my personal Daily Beast) reads to me in the morning, as I pack my daughter's lunch, but I do know the fashion business. It's Feb. 11th...one week til the runway show I've worked on every weekend since the start of Jan. The lovely, relaxed Jamaican vibe I brought home from vacation is long gone, exchanged for the roller-coaster ride of the show.

Last Saturday was the day; it happens every show, the day you lose faith in your ability to create something beautiful, the day you panic and think all the work you've done so far is futile, the day all the clothes created over the last month look undesirable. It was also the day your adrenaline kicks in, the panic starts, the sleepless nights intensify and you struggle with where you are going and why. Who wants it anyway, if the world is falling apart? Pushing past the panic, there is a thread of beauty, a ray of hope, a bias dress in an opulent print, a whimsical mix of knits and extravagant jewels. My confidence is restored...hmmmmm, 50 employees working late nights beside me, sleeve-to-sleeve, sacrificing weekends, and time with family and friends. What's to keep them from burning out, rebelling or full on mutiny?

The crew, beginning with my designers, mostly in their 20's, seem to maintain the stamina to labor till 9 pm, go out on the town, and still be at work the next day by 9 am. They did not sign up for putting their social life on hold. The pattern makers, grown-ups with families; a tough group who can make or break the show, they need to have an eye for beauty and cut. Their enthusiasm for the sacrifices required by the show wanes, but we are nothing without them, and they know it; they wield their power. The cutters, are self-proclaimed hot-blooded Latinos. Surrounded by beautiful women they tolerate the over-time. The sample makers, mostly Chinese: are amazing, hard working, and tremendously devoted. The interns run errands in 10 degree weather, spend hours over pots of dye, sew buttons, fetch coffee and generally tend to the scraps, purely for their love of fashion.

Everyone gets it, the push to meet deadlines, and yet, what we wouldn't all give for a respite, a night with our kids or our friends. I'm blessed with this crew. We are an ethnic melting pot of passion, diligence and devotion, and it's my role to keep us inspired, despite the recession, the cutbacks, the trimming of costs that has forced us to do away with - nothing as glamorous as corporate jets - I'm talking simple perks, such as snacks (afternoon fruit trays, Mrs. Fields' cookies, chips and salsa...). Now we all stockpile private stashes of junk food while longing to return to the high life; stitching ourselves together with calories, camaraderie, adrenaline surges, knowing It will all be over soon.